After Church today, I went to the local Office Depot to pick up some business envelopes for Church use. I was pleased
to see that there was a sign in front of the envelopes stating, "Buy 2, get 1 free---Good through December 6". There
wasn't just one sign, but rather there was a 3" x 5" card in front of every brand of envelopes. As I continued to browse,
I noticed there was one of these cards in front of every single item on this aisle. You couldn't miss it. I inspected
the card more closeley to discover that the "buy 2, get 1" deal applied to all shipping supplies. Hence the reason the
shipping supplies aisle is littered with these cards.
This is not my first venture in the Office Depot. I know that if I'm purchasing supplies for the Church, that I
need to first inform the clerk that the impending purchase is tax-exempt. Then, I know to hand the clerk the tax-exempt
ID card so that it can be swiped, thus imparting all the vital information needed to ensure no tax is applied. So, in my usual
fashion, as I approach the checkout counter, I hand the clerk the tax-exempt ID card and state, "This is tax-exempt."
She takes the card, but hardly acknowledges it, mechanically asking, "Do you have an Office Depot Reward Card?" I stoically
respond, "No." She then states, "You can receive $10 in the form of a gift card for all ink cartridge purchases.
Would you like one?" Again, I said, "No, thank you." As I lay 3 boxes of envelopes on the counter, I tell her,
"This is 'buy 2, get 1 free'". I was sure this was going to be yet another painful visit to the Office Depot when my
statement is met only with a blank stare. I would've been happy with a perplexed look, but no, I get the blank
stare. In an attempt to break her out of her catatonia, I repeat myself with qualifiers, "This is 'buy 2, get 1 free'.
It applies to all shipping supplies. The aisle is practically littered with the signs." She then did the dreaded
dead---using her discretely placed earpiece, she summons the store manager---no doubt a genius in his own right (or at least
his own mind). Unfortunately he is apparently overwhelmed with his own responsibilities, which is presumably to walk
the aisles affixing hundreds of "buy 2, get 1 free" cards to all the shipping supplies throughout the store. He can't
answer her question which was remarkably, succinctly put, "I have a customer who says these envelopes are supposed to be 'buy
2, get 1 free', do you know anything about this?"
My wife offered her services and walked directly to the aisle and returned with one of those wiley, elusive cards, thus
vindicating my statement. I was in hopes that this would finally end my penance in this chasm of customer anti-service.
My hopes were dashed, yet again, by the blank stare. Somehow, uncannily, she overcame it and summoned the manager again.
He was out of "buy 2, get 1" cards, so he was freed up to help her out. His help essentially mounted up to, "Yeah, these
are 'buy 2, get 1 free'." At this point, I swear I hear angels singing. A few clicks on the keyboard followed
by his ultra-secrect manager code, and we're in business again.
She rings it up, almost effortlessly this time. It was as if she'd done this before. Lucky me. I pay
for the items. Then I ask for my card back. You guessed it--the blank stare is back. (Where are the
angels?) Only this time, the stare comes with words, "What card?" I calmly state, "The tax-exempt ID card I gave
you. It's right there underneath that 'buy 2, get 1' card." While scanning my receipt, I
asked, "You didn't charge tax, did you?" (I didn't need to look at the receipt. I didn't need to ask the question.)
You know the answer. She summons manager-boy again. As he arrives, he has a look of
frustration that is only slightly more convincing than hers, but no where near that of the visages of the line of 12
customers behind me in line. He says, "What now?" Now there's a diffusing tone. She
grumbled, "He had a tax-exempt card." The fact that she said this as if I'd only given her the card after she'd
finalized the transaction was not lost on me. Feeling pity---and I have no idea from whence
that came---I waited for her manager to leave before I defended myself stating, "That's why I gave you the card
first." She slipped into teenage girl babble-mode, the jist of which was, "I know, but I have to enter the
tax-exempt stuff last...and with the having to cancel the items, then adding them back with the buy 2, get 1, I forgot all
about the tax...sorry." Sorry. Yep, that about sums it up.
So, Office Depot, "Do I have a Rewards Card?" No, but tell me this---can I get a card that extends me the privilege
of having the clerk shut-up and listen to me? Where can I sign up for that card?
Our family has a tradition at Thanksgiving in which we each bring a wrapped Christmas tree ornament and have a gift exchange
game (probably most commonly called "Chinese Christmas"---although I don't advocate the use of the term as it could be offensive
to the Chinese and the game has nothing to do with any Chinese tradition that I'm aware of).
So we have a lot of fun with the game, and the end result is that you have a new ornament to hang on your Christmas tree
this year. Our respective trees have accumulated a nice unique collection of ornaments---often times with attached memories
of the gift exchange itself.
For years, I've exclusively shopped at Waldenwood Gifts & Accessories
to purchase my ornament for the exchange. Waldenwood
is a quaint shop in Athens that is usually chock full of unique seasonal items. I especially like the store at this
time of year due to the multitude of unique, often hand-made, ornaments that can be found there. Unfortunately,
yesterday, I found yet another victim of the failing economy. Waldenwood was eerily bare. The ornaments were isolated
to one small corner of the shop and were few and unimaginative. I innocently asked the proprietor, "Have you just not
gotten out your ornaments this year?" His response, "Well, due to the economy, we've had to scale back...we just can't
have $20,000 worth of inventory and not sell it." Deflated, I just thanked him and left without making a purchase since
the inventory that was
there was just not very unique. He said the usual, "Thanks for coming and come back
to see us." The sad fact is, I probably won't go back. It was pathetic. Click here to discuss this topic in the forums.